According to a poll by ABC News this summer, 83 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christians.
According to the U.S. Census, there were 323 million people living in the U.S.
But does anyone really believe there are really anywhere near 268 million believers in America today?
If there were even half that number, would we have an abortion in this country every 29 seconds?
Would we have a popular culture that is rotting from the head?
Would we have a nation that is so far removed from the rule of law?
Would we have a country whose de facto official religion is secular humanism?
Even if 83 percent of Americans self-identify as “cultural Christians,” it just doesn’t add up.
It seems we have some definitional problems.
To be a Christian means a number of things:
- To love God with all one’s heart, soul and mind;
- To love one’s neighbor as oneself;
- To be a follower of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, the King of Kings;
- To be truly repentant for all your sins – meaning to turn from them and toward the holiness of a righteous God.
If America were a nation with a population of even 25 percent true believers, it would be fundamentally transformed from the bottom up, not the top down as it has been over the last eight years.
So what’s wrong with this picture?
In short, why do we have mega-sin in a mega-church culture?
In August the Ethics and Religious Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest denomination in America, held its national convention in Nashville.
Something happened there that provides a little insight.
Russell Moore, the president of the commission, held a conversation with one of the nation’s largest mega-pastors, Andy Stanley of Atlanta’s North Point Community Church. Moore posed the following question to Stanley: “If you were, for real, the evangelical pope and you really had authority to say, ‘This is how it’s gonna be within American evangelical Christianity,’ what would you do?”
This was Stanley’s response: “I would ask preachers and pastors and student pastors in their communication to set the spotlight off the Bible and back on the resurrection. Let’s get people’s attention back on Jesus as soon as possible, that the issue for us is always who is Jesus, did He rise from the dead? And that we would leverage the authority we have in the resurrection as opposed to Scripture, not because I don’t believe Scripture’s inspired in terms of reaching this culture.”
I don’t know about you, but that would not be my answer.
I would tell them what Jesus did. But, of course, you couldn’t really get very far without the Scriptures. I would suggest most people in America have heard Jesus rose from the dead. But do they know why? Do they understand He was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world? Do they know why? Can we really understand who Jesus is without the Scriptures? Can their faith survive the trials and tribulations Jesus Himself promised to His followers? And how can we even be certain that He lived, died and was resurrected without the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation? By the way, should they understand that Jesus is, in fact, God – the Creator of all things? Should they understand that He fulfilled dozens of prophecies in his birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection? Should they know that He is coming back to rule and reign over the earth as King?
I would think these would be helpful to restoring broken lives.
The only trouble is, it’s all found in the Scriptures mega-pastor Stanley suggests gets too much of the spotlight in today’s world.
Perhaps it would also be helpful if the church understood that Jesus is The Word, meaning He represents the very embodiment of those Scriptures.
I certainly don’t want to diminish the importance of the resurrection. But I would never suggest that the Bible – the Living Word of God – gets too much attention.
The Scriptures are God’s Word delivered to us. Could anything be more important to any person on the planet?
Am I making too much of what may have been an ill-conceived remark from one mega-pastor?
But sowing confusion among the flock is not what I would expect from a Christian leader.
Remember one of Jesus’ last commandments to His disciples: “Feed my sheep.”
What did He mean? He didn’t mean give them food. He meant feed them with the Word of God those Scriptures some mega-pastors believe, apparently, get too much of our attention.
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